Mayor: Zoo Workers Shot Animals for Meat

Officials in the central German city of Erfurt called for stronger laws Monday to protect the rights of animals amid allegations that workers at the city's zoo killed some goats, sheep, pigs and other beasts to sell them for their meat.

The scandal at the Thueringer Zoopark in Erfurt, a city of 200,000 people about 60 miles southwest of Leipzig, has provoked criticism from animal rights groups and cost the zoo's director his job.

"The killing and selling of animals has been effectively stopped," Erfurt Mayor Andreas Bausewein said.

Last week, Erfurt state prosecutors launched an investigation after Bausewein alerted them to problems at the zoo, which is home to giraffes, monkeys and elephants, as well as domestic animals such as donkeys, goats and pigs.

The mayor's office said that goats, sheep, pigs and deer accounted for most of the animals that have disappeared from the zoo, alleging they were shot and butchered without proper approval from a veterinarian.

The German Animal Protection Association said the actions violated existing laws protecting animals and expressed concern that more such cases existed.

"We fear that this is just the tip of the iceberg," said Wolfgang Apel, the association's president.

The zoo's new director, Hans-Guenther Collette, said that in addition to making sure no more killings take place, he plans to ensure that the public knows that all animals have been accounted for.

"We will post a complete list of all animals in the zoo on our home page and update it regularly," Collette said.